The credit crunch could force care homes to close unless local authorities can pay bigger fees or the government helps the sector find capital, a leading healthcare practitioner warned yesterday.

Chai Patel, a former health adviser to the government and former chief executive of the Priory Group and Westminster Health Care, said the string of highly leveraged care home deals in recent years were likely to come unstuck as companies struggled to refinance them.

'There is a chance of the social care sector actually tipping over' into a wave of closures, he said. With demand for places rising, that would have big effects on the NHS, which relies on the private sector to provide beds to patients who no longer need to be in hospital.

Dr Patel, a potential investor in the sector, as chairman of Court Cavendish and partner in venture capital firm Elysian, maintained he had no direct axe to grind as he is not currently involved in care home provision.

Financial Times